Indians rookie catcher Carlos Santana is really, really good

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Carlos Santana’s promotion to Cleveland kind of got lost in the call-up shuffle last month as Stephen Strasburg and Mike Stanton dominated the hype and headlines, but the switch-hitting catcher has been fantastic and the Indians are quietly playing much better since his arrival.
Prior to calling up Santana the Indians were 23-36, but they’ve gone 17-18 with him in the lineup as the 24-year-old acquired from the Dodgers for Casey Blake in mid-2008 has hit .282 with a .431 on-base percentage and .547 slugging percentage in 153 plate appearances.
In the minors Santana drew more walks than strikeouts while getting on base at a .401 clip, but drawing 32 walks in 153 trips to the plate is remarkable patience for a rookie getting his first taste of the big leagues. Projected over a full season of 600 plate appearances, he’s on a 125-walk pace. Gene Tenace holds the all-time walks record for catchers with 125 in 1977.
Santana has also shown excellent power, smacking six homers and 13 doubles in 117 at-bats. He never showed quite that much pop in the minors, but did average 21 homers and 34 doubles per 500 at-bats. Offensively he’s the total package, with power and patience from both sides of the plate. And he’s even thrown out 35 percent of steal attempts after struggling to control the running game at times in the minors.
He’ll no doubt go through a rough patch eventually, but Santana’s minor-league track record is nearly flawless, his approach at the plate is fantastic, and he has the potential to be a perennial MVP candidate long after Casey Blake is retired. Sorry, Dodgers fans.

Hyun-Jin Ryu will open season in Dodgers’ rotation

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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will open the regular season in the starting rotation, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports.

Ryu, 30, missed the entire 2015 season and made only one start last season due to shoulder and elbow injuries. The lefty has looked solid in three spring appearances, however, yielding a lone run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in nine innings.

With Scott Kazmir likely to begin the season on the disabled list, that leaves Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.